It’s easy to see teenagers like caterpillars that are wrestling free from the numbing rhythms of their everyday life and into their butterfly life—where they figure out who they really are and what they really have to give to the world. Life can be ugly, but all of us long for the beauty of a life that deeply satisfies. And what is our students’ pathway into that kind of life? A lot have been seduced into pursuing the false roads of financial success or physical pleasure or social popularity. But anyone who’s ventured down these roads very far knows there is always a dead-end around the bend.
Over 150 years ago, the British pastor C.H. Spurgeon was the most famous person in the world—but most of us are only vaguely aware of him today. He earned the nickname “the prince of preachers” when he was just 22 because of his inspiring sermons as the pastor of London’s famous downtown church, New Park Street Chapel. Every Sunday he’d preach twice, to congregations of 6,000 people, before the days of microphones and amplification. Today, he still has more books in print than any pastor in history, including more than 2,500 sermons.
Spurgeon’s path out of the caterpillar life was guided by a very simple conviction—he “beelined” everything in his life and ministry to Jesus. Of course, “beeline” is a goofy word—it means that no matter what he was preaching or teaching about, Spurgeon was always headed to Jesus. He lived and urged the Jesus-centered life. Once, a young pastor asked Spurgeon to critique his preaching, and the older man was blunt: “That was a poor sermon.” When the young man asked for an explanation, Spurgeon replied:
“Because there was no Christ in it.” The young man protested that his chosen scripture verse had nothing to do with Jesus, Spurgeon responded: “Don’t you know, young man, that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London? And so from every text in Scripture there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ.”*
Spurgeon’s passion for Jesus, and his determination to track everything in the Bible back to “the metropolis of Christ,” is the light students need to find their way through a life that can seem like a dark jungle.
As they draw near to the heart of Jesus, the transformation they experience will feel like they’ve been set free into a life that is bursting with fruit—everywhere they go they’ll leave a trail of good impact. When they, like the Apostle Paul before them, can say “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2), then they’ll be caught up in a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. The closer they get to Jesus, the more they’ll discover their true identity and purpose in life.
The reality of what happens when we’re caught in the “gravitational pull” of Jesus is exactly why I created the biggest project of my life—the Jesus-Centered Bible. With features that have never been included in a Bible before, our team’s intention was to highlight the looming presence of Jesus everywhere in Scripture. The story of God revolves around a person, not a set of principles. That’s because relationships transform us, not principles. So we created the kind of Bible we wished already existed—a reading experience that would draw us back to the homeless “rabboni,” again and again.
*Taken from Sermon 242, Christ Precious to Believers, preached by Charles Spurgeon on March 13, 1859.